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December 22, 2010

Why basic numeracy is important

A quite extraordinary transcript of a billing dispute:

[Caller]: Okay, I think I have to do this again. Do you recognize that there's a difference between one dollar and one cent?
[Agent]: Definitely.
[Caller]: Do you recognize there's a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?
[Agent]: Definitely.
[Caller]: Then, do you therefore recognize there's a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents?
[Agent]: No.
[Caller]: No?
[Agent]: I mean there's... there's no .002 dollars.

Via.  If a dispute over $71 versus 71c seems beneath your notice, scroll up to the top of the thread where the business and economics editor of a major US magazine gets equally defensive about a similar error, except on the order of trillions of dollars.

Then again, given that the said economics editor is apparently paid $200000 per year despite a history of such errors, maybe the title should be “Why basic numeracy is not important.”

December 22, 2010 in Science | Permalink


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